Feb 19, 2018
When I used to make a sell travel journals at craft shows, people would always tell me how they never know what to write in a journal. I'd often hear that they sit down at the end of the day to write and fall asleep. Not at all surprising! If it feels like homework, it's not going to be enjoyable.
Travel journaling is never going to be successful if you're treating it like an assignment that you need to complete each day. Rather than thinking of your journal as a record of your itinerary, think of it as a series of snapshots of your trip. Print out your itinerary and tuck that into the journal to remember that you went here on Tuesday and there on Friday. Use the pages of your journal to write about what you're feeling about the trip, what senses are being awakened, and what ideas you're having in this brand place new.
If you save your journalling for the end of the day, you'll never remember all the small details. Instead have your journal on hand and write snippets throughout the day, little snapshots of what you're thinking and feeling. You can always go back and expand on some of those thoughts and experiences later when you have more time, but writing them down will press pause on that moment in time.
For those of you scared of the white page or not sure where to start, here are 5 of my favorite travel journal prompts to get the wheels turning.
Start each day with the same oberservation.
I love this exercise as a way of getting into the journalling mindset each day. Note the view out your window, or from your breakfast table. What's different? What's the same? What details shift a little each day?
What do you smell?
Sit in one place and smell your surroundings. Look around you, can you figure out where that smell is coming from? Is it different from anything you smell at home, the same? What memory does this smell conjure for you?
What do you hear?
Close your eyes and just listen. Where are those sounds coming from? How would you describe them? Are people talking? Listen for a snippet of conversation, and if you don't speak their language try to imagine what they're talking about by intonation and gestures. Are any of these sounds familiar to you?
Note the environment around you.
Is it cold, warm, humid, dry? Write down the time of day and weather. What is it about the physical environment at this moment that sets the season? How do you feel physically right now? Comfortable?
What boring details about ordinary life are different?
Go to a supermarket, pharmacy or post office and note how it's different from at home. What items are sold differently than they are at home? How do the prices compare? How is this experience different from home, and how is it surprisingly the same? Travel isn't always just about taking in the sites, it's also about seeing how other people live in a different country.
Sometimes all it takes in something quick to get you started, and words and sketches will start flowing. Like anything, it takes a while to get into a new habit. If you're not a daily journal keeper in your day to day life, pick up a little notebook and start writing before you leave home. Added bonus: you'll be looking at your regular routine and environment with new and fresh eyes.